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Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio


May to-do list



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May 01, 2013 - So it's May already.

That means it's time for the second graders in Clarkston to start getting ready for their annual visit through downtown Clarkston to learn about some local history.

Other grade schoolers are looking forward to fun in the sun in their schools' outdoor exercise events, field days, and whatnot.

Seniors who are about to graduate at Clarkston, Renaissance, Everest, and the other local high schools are preparing to walk down the aisles in their robes (the Wolves are probably stockpiling beach balls and other inflatables) as well as whatever else they have planned for the rest of their lives.

For Clarkston Board of Education and administration, May means crunching numbers for the next school year's budget.

Things are different this time, compared to what I've seen the last few years.

Previously, they'd work out the plan, and if money coming from the state or feds wouldn't cover it, they'd pull the difference out of the district's fund balance, its savings account.

That's not happening this time.

Those savings are about tapped out. So now they must ensure spending doesn't exceed income, or else the state sends someone to do it for them

Now that it has come down to this, decisions should be easier, or at least clearer.

No more consideration of whether the district can weather a few more years, depending on the fund-balance cushion while hoping for economic improvements.

That ship has sailed.

Funding is at 2005 levels, as explained by Deputy Superintendent Shawn Ryan at the public hearing last week. So it would make sense to reset as many expenditures at 2005 levels as well.

Many saw this coming for years, probably for decades. When pensions and retirement plans were negotiated, I'm sure someone looked at employment and retirement rates, factoring in mortality rates, and calculated about when legacy costs would overwhelm the ability of taxpayers to support them.

Right about now, it would probably have been.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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